A busy Covington City Council conducted two meetings this week to discuss the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget and take care of other business matters.

The first meeting that city council conducted was a budget work session on  Monday evening.

One major talking point during the budget work session was projects programmed that would cost over $30,000.

A couple of notable projects in this category were sidewalks and bridges.

Among the notable sidewalk projects that was programmed into the fiscal year 2022 budget was the wooden sidewalk located on Thacker Avenue that leads to the Jamison Commerce Center.

It was stated that the wooden sidewalk that is in the area at present will be changed to a concrete sidewalk.

When discussing bridges, City Manager Krystal Onaitis stated that $100,000 was programmed into the budget for preventative maintenance on local bridges, with the ongoing plans to work on the Rayon Bridge being a key component.

Later in the budget work session, the issue of new employment positions was discussed.

Onaitis announced during Monday’s work session that applications for the public works director position was starting to be accepted Monday and those applications may be submitted up until Thursday, June 10.

A suggestion for a new position was presented to city council during Monday’s budget work session, and that was of a grant writer.

Onaitis stated that this position would be specifically for an individual to take care of the grantwriting process for the city.

Another key item that was discussed during the work session was that of the Rivermont School located in the old Grand Piano and Furniture Company Building on Main Street.

In that discussion, it was announced that after the current academic year, the school would be relocated to the vacant Falling Spring Elementary School Building.

When discussing a recent tour of the Rivermont School Building, Onaitis described what she saw as, “startling.”

While discussing the fiscal year 2022 budget, a couple of key questions were posed due to the austere  nature of the proposed budget.

One of those questions posed was whether the city should raise taxes to have money for job positions or to address the city’s infrastructure.

While addressing those concerns, District 3 Councilman Raymond Hunter then expressed his concerns over the budgetary and financial issues by saying, “People will end up having to choose whether to eat or pay bills.”

After addressing a majority of the proposed budget discussion items, city council adjourned the budget work session.

Another work session for the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget will be conducted May 17 at 5:30 p.m.

City council then convened Tuesday evening for its regular May meeting.

During the regular meeting city council approved several ordinances and appointments.

Among those approved was O-21-06 to amend and re-enact Chapter 2, Administration, Article V, Planning Commission, Section 2-272, Composition, to the code of the city of Covington.

This allows city council to reduce the number of members of the Covington Planning Commission from eight to five.

Another ordinance that was approved Tuesday was O-21-07 to Declare a State of Emergency and to amend and re-enact Chapter 2, Administration, Article VIII, Office of Emergency Services by enacting Section 2-390, Price Gouging Prohibited.

City council approved the proclamation to declare Sunday, May 9, through Sunday, May 15, National Police Week.

The proclamation read in part, “Now therefore be it proclaimed, the week of May 9th through 15th National Police Week and the Covington City Council hereby recognizes the exceptional dedication of the Covington Police Department as we recognize May 9th through May 15th as National Police Week.”

“We thank you for your dedication,” the proclamation concluded.

The following appointment was made Tuesday:

— Lisa Schoppmeyer’s appointment to be a representative to the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation to fill the unexpired term of Mary Ann Beirne ending Dec. 31, 2023.

The following old business item was approved:

— Consideration of Resolution R-21-21 to allow amending city budget to fund level as opposed to function level.

As there was only one application/resumé submission turned in to city council, a deadline of Wednesday, May 26, was set for those interested in applying for one of the two upcoming vacant Covington City School Board seats.

During public comment, Covington Fire Department Chief Andrew Baker addressed city council in regard to ongoing concerns.

Also during public comment, Covington resident Josh Haynes requested that city council initiate an investigation into the validity of voting machines used in the city and that city council ease COVID-19 safety restrictions (i.e. social distancing and mask wearing).